US union calls yet another approval of massive meat industry acquisition ‘death by a thousand cuts’ for family farmers and ranchers

Roger Johnson, President of the United States National Farmers Union, has expressed strong concerns over concentration in the American pigmeat processing sector, following the announcement of the approval by the Department of Justice (DOJ) of the purchase by JBS SA of Cargill Inc.’s pork unit.

“Despite the fact that American agriculture is already highly concentrated, the DOJ has once again approved a major acquisition by one meat industry behemoth of another. The continued string of acquisitions and mergers that we’ve seen over the last few years creates a marketplace that is controlled by just a handful of companies, placing family farmers and ranchers at a significant disadvantage. For America’s family farmers and ranchers, this is nothing short of ‘death by a thousand cuts.’

“In fact, with the approval of this deal, more than seventy percent of the pork processing ability in the United States is controlled by just four companies. This increased concentration further reduces marketing opportunities for family farmers and could directly impact pork prices for consumers. Brazilian meatpacker JBS is now the second-largest pork packer in the country, with Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods remaining the largest.

“What is additionally troubling is that the DOJ has not asked for a single restriction on this deal. While they have argued that family farmers are free to comment if they have any concerns, the unfortunate fact is that most producers are afraid to speak out, fearing retribution by the handful of meatpackers who run the show.

“It’s time for the Department of Justice to wake up and realize that simply rubber stamping every merger and acquisition request that comes before it is directly undermining our nation’s already vulnerable family farmers and small producers.”

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